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Press Release

Justice Department Facilitates Meetings in Western District of Louisiana for Ways to Combat Unlawful Acts of Hate

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Louisiana

SHREVEPORT/LAFAYETTE, La. - United States Attorney Brandon B. Brown announced that community meetings were held last week in both the Shreveport and Lafayette areas in hopes of finding ways to combat unlawful acts of hate targeted at the LGTBQIA+ community.

In September 2022, United States Attorney General Merrick Garland announced a nationwide initiative to combat these crimes of hate and stated that investigating and prosecuting hate crimes is a top priority for the Justice Department. The United Against Hate Community Outreach Program was established to bring awareness and emphasize the need to report hate incidents as well as crimes. Hate crimes target and harm not just individual victims, but entire communities and it is important that we use every tool available to prevent, deter, and respond to hate crimes and bias-motivated forms of extremism.

The program brings together community leaders with federal, state and local law enforcement to help the community be better informed and understand how to report hate crimes and build trust between law enforcement and communities. Through using hypothetical scenarios and video clips depicting real-life hate crime cases and stories, United Against Hate promotes interaction between community members and law enforcement participants. Program topics include: defining hate crimes versus hate incidents; the importance of reporting unlawful acts of hate; providing options for responding to hate incidents when situations do not constitute a federal or state crime; and distinguishing unlawful conduct from protected First Amendment activity, including identifying protected speech versus speech that advocates violence or encourages people to commit hate crimes.

The first event was held at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette on June 28, 2023, and the second event was held at the Louisiana State University at Shreveport on June 29, 2023. Panelists for the events in both Shreveport and Lafayette included representatives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice Community Relations Service, Shreveport Police Department, People Acting for Change and Equality (PACE), Louisiana Trans Advocates, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Acadiana Queer Collective, and Community Advocate. The Justice Department is committed to its United States Attorney’s Offices strengthening its relationships within their respective communities in terms of civil rights awareness and resources. The Western District of Louisiana has sponsored or participated in civil rights related meetings in Shreveport, Lafayette, Alexandria, Monroe, Lake Charles, Tallulah, Bossier City, and Grambling, related to use of force investigations, disparities in public school education, issues concerning English Learner students, and the like.

“The United Against Hate program is another tool in our toolkit that we will use to try and eradicate hate in our district," stated United States Attorney Brandon B. Brown. “It is my understanding that there are multiple unsolved transgender homicides and assaults in this district. There is a natural hesitation of persons that may have information concerning these crimes to engage with law enforcement, but we want to extend the olive branch. Every person in the Western District of Louisiana, and everywhere for that matter, deserves to live in a community where they do not have to be fearful of being harassed or attacked because of their color, gender identification, sexual preference, or religious beliefs. This is another civil rights related event that we have sponsored that has led to more open discussion and awareness concerning these issues that plague our communities today.”

“It is vital that the public understand how important reporting a potential hate crime is,” said Douglas A. Williams, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of FBI New Orleans. “Without the help of the community, these malicious crimes may go unpunished. The FBI is proud to be part of the U.S. Attorney’s effort to educate the public on how we can help develop strategies to address local hate crime problems. Anyone with civil rights concerns can contact us at 1-800-CALL-FBI, the FBI New Orleans Headquarters at (504) 816-3000 or submit a tip at” 

“The Office of Campus Diversity was happy to partner with the Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney General's Office for the Western District of Louisiana, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Community Relations Service on the United Against Hate Event,” stated Kiwana T. McClung, Chief Diversity Officer and Professor of Architecture and Design at University of Louisiana at Lafayette. “Our office is committed to educating our campus stakeholders about issues of concern affecting the LGBTQ+ community and this event was very timely, assisting us in fulfilling that mission. The information, resources, and perspectives provided during this event were very beneficial to the attendees and we would like to sincerely thank the panelists for their service. We look forward to partnering again in the future, so that we may continue our mission of inclusive excellence at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and in the wider Lafayette community.

“Never let anyone’s ignorance become your reality,” stated Roxie C. Black, LGBTQ+ Community Advocate and panelist at the United Against Hate community meeting held in Lafayette, Louisiana.

"With the continuous rise of anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric spreading across our state and country, we can only expect an increase in related hate crimes,” said Peyton Rose Michelle, Executive Director of Louisiana Trans Advocates. “I'm grateful that the DOJ is invested in ensuring that our community knows their safety is a priority and ensuring they know the importance of reporting hate crimes. And as a leader, I'm grateful to know I have a trusted resource to support my community when they share with me that they've experienced the trauma of a hate crime."

Development of the United Against Hate program was led by the Civil Rights Division. EOUSA and other components in the Department’s Hate Crimes Enforcement and Prevention Initiative, including the Community Relations Service, the Community Oriented Policing Services Office, the FBI, and the Office of Justice Programs, provided critical assistance in developing the program. Click here for more information about ways to combat hate crimes and incidents.

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Updated July 13, 2023

Hate Crimes